There are many insights to be gained from a crisis that has affected communities around the globe. People from all walks of life and businesses across all industries are dealing with the wide-ranging impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many are calling it the biggest public health and financial crisis of our lifetime.
Photographers have a unique role and responsibility in times of crisis, and this one is no exception. Here, we’re looking at how photography is taking us through these uncertain times, and the lasting impact today’s images will have throughout history.
© Vladimir Fedotov via unsplash
Photography Is Essential
While photographers assume their position behind the camera, they are on the front lines of the effort to document the crisis. For those of us fortunate enough to be able to shelter in place, photographers are providing us with a lens through which to understand the magnitude of the pandemic and its impact on society. From capturing the hard truths to honoring healthcare heroes and essential workers, photography is contextualizing the novel coronavirus.
Everyone Has a Story
The faces of the pandemic are myriad. There are those who have experienced the health effects of the virus — either personally or through a loved one. Those who are answering the call to help — the healthcare professionals, essential workers and volunteers putting themselves at risk to care for others and keep our society moving. Even those celebrating the heroism of our frontline workers through nightly claps and cheers are playing a part.
© Jonathan Borba via unsplash
Our faces may be concealed by masks, but behind each mask is a person who has been affected by the pandemic in some way. Photographers are uncovering these stories and, in the process, reminding us that we are all truly in this together.
Emotion Runs Deep; Capturing It Is More Complex
When New York City photographer John Saponara joined the team at Duggal Visual Solutions to produce face shields for frontline medical personnel, he took the opportunity to grab his camera and capture this valiant initiative in action. Discussing the experience in an interview, he shared one of the great photography challenges that is unique to the time — capturing emotion when facial expressions are hidden.
“Everything has to be communicated through your eyes,” he said. “It’s the new norm we’re living — seeing people through their eyes, because we can’t see their face.”
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Saponara makes an important point about this new age of photography — that we’ll have to work that much harder to discover what lies behind the mask. At a time when emotions are running high around the world, encapsulating that emotion is both crucial and complex.
Photographers Are Making History
If this is, in fact, the crisis of our lifetime, photographers are the ones capturing it. The images being produced today will leave a profound and lasting mark in history. Whether you’re a novice or veteran photographer; on the outskirts of the pandemic or in an epicenter, be proud of the very important work you are doing to document this moment in time. Stay safe!